I thought I’d get to write and post way more often than I have on the Miller Road Trip 2017. I’m a week and a half in and I’ve written a lot in my travel journal (the boys have been doing this, too), but I haven’t pulled out my computer once…until last night. We’re in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., right at the base of the ski mountain. Apparently they’re still skiing here until August 8! Crazy snow.
We’ve had a packed week and a half, and the opportunity to write and post pictures has been non-existent, not to mention internet connection has been hit or miss. Well, enough about technology and my current circumstances. Here are the highlights of the first week of our trip.
- I accidentally rolled my bag into mud just outside our friends’ beautiful new home in Steamboat Springs. I got most of it off, but it’ll need a hose and some soap when I get home. Clothes all stayed clean and dry.
- Dinosaur National Monument was our first night of camping, and the tent popped up without a problem. Neighboring campers even came over to admire it. But it was as hot as hot can be. The wind blew like crazy, too, so it felt like we were sitting next to a furnace with a fan blowing across it. Needless to say, none of us slept all that well.
- We visited the Quarry Exhibit Hall at Dinosaur National Monument and it was unexpectedly amazing. More than 1,500 dinosaur bones are on display, still stuck in the rock from millions of years ago.
- Our second night of camping was perfection. The campsite sits just below Mt. Timpanogos in Utah and it was quiet, treed and cool.
- The boys had their first river kayaking experience down the Provo River. No white water. Just calm, easy floating. I also noted that the River Rats (what we affectionately call white water rafting guides) in Utah are cleaner and better behaved than those in Colorado. I know from personal experience since my older brother guided trips down the Arkansas for 20 years. He was scroungy and has tons of stories of bad behavior.
- No matter where the mountains are or how tall they are, I love them so. The hiking and views at Sundance Mountain Resort didn’t disappoint.
- The Sundance General Store is even better than the catalog. For my 20th wedding anniversary, the hubs bought me a beautiful and unique stone and turquoise necklace. And dinner at the Tree Room was delish. Our bottle of Silver Oak cab didn’t suck either.
- Southwest Utah is vast and desolate.
- Great Basin National Park was a surprise treat. Relatively quiet and stunning views. Even so, you need to go early to snag a decent campground at Wheeler Peak or Upper Lehman. On our first night I think we got the very last campsite in the park, and it was obvious why no one wanted it. It was exposed and dusty. We made the most of it and were able to get a perfect site at Wheeler Peak the next morning.
- Four-thousand-year-old trees have an eerie quality to them. They almost look dead, but if you study them, you’ll find green pine needles sparsely sprouting along their scraggly branches. I only know this from our hike to the Bristlecone Pine Grove just below the top of Wheeler Peak. The Bristlecone Pines are the oldest living things on earth today. Cool stuff for sure.
- Central Nevada is even more vast and desolate than Southwest Utah, if that’s even possible.
- I’m no longer an Airbnb virgin! I booked a place in Tahoma, Calif., on Lake Tahoe’s Western shore and it was perfect. It was a quaint and cozy lake cabin. It had an odd smell, but it was otherwise a nice place to crash after several days camping in the wilderness.
- There is public pool at the top of Squaw Valley ski resort. You ride the tram up above tree line and there it is…a pool. It was nice, but it seemed so out of place. The boys loved it, but I was ready to get on fresh lake water. It just seemed more natural.
- And that we did. We rented jet skis for an hour and played on the water just off the shores of Homewood, Calif. For the record, the hubs is a much better auto driver than he is a jet ski driver. After a minor collision, he got the concept of steering a watercraft versus a landcraft.
- We were sad to see hubs/dad go, but back to Denver he went. Work called. Honestly, I’m a little freaked out about setting up camp on my own. I did make a quick stop by Target to get a step stool — it’s really more like a small ladder — to help me set up the tent. We’ll see!
- Seeing Lake Tahoe from the East is breathtaking. I love Colorado and the Rockies, but the Sierra Nevadas sure give the Rockies a run for their money.
- Non-drowsy Dramamine doesn’t apply to kids. Both of mine slept most of the four hours in the car yesterday. No barfing, though.
- Speaking of eerie, Bodie, Calif., is an old west ghost town that boomed in the late 1870s and early 1880s. As we walked the streets of what is now a California State Park and saw homes with furniture, dishes and even shoes still in place, a general store with shelves still lined with merchandise and a hotel bar with a long dining table and pool table still in tact, I wondered about the stories and people of this town. It was a fascinating place.
- Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain just might require a return visit when the snow is deep and fresh.
This morning we’re off to Yosemite. First, we’ll hit the grocery store for our first campsite dinner without hubs/dad and then cross our fingers that we’ll find a decent place to camp. I’m also concerned about crowds and traffic in the park. Everything I’ve read makes it sound less than ideal, which sort of defeats the whole concept of the National Park System (at least in my opinion – more about that later in a future blog hopefully). Regardless, we’ll venture out and make the most of it. After all, that’s the point of this adventure. More to come (hopefully!).